Following a dominant performance by Ferrari, with a 1-2 win for Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, in the Spanish Grand Prix at the weekend (27 April 2008) the world’s most successful motorsport team now leads both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ title chases in 2008 Formula One World Championship.
It was an action-packed race at the Circuit de Catalunya, but not for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, as Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa put on a dominant show to lead throughout the 66 laps, with the exception of a few moments during the run of pit stops. For the Finn, it was his second win of the season and it's the team's second consecutive one-two finish this year.
"It would be hard to do better than this!” Said Kimi at the end of the race. “Yesterday pole, today the win, rounded off with a second place for Felipe. We are leading both championships which I'm happy about. The whole weekend went well and we managed to get the result we came here for. It was not an easy win, but what matters is the ten points, not the lead you have when you cross the line. I did not get a perfect start, but it was enough to keep the lead and then we tried to control the situation. The two Safety Car periods complicated things slightly, wiping out the lead we had built up in the first part, but we never lost the lead of the race. The car handled very well and had a great balance. We are leading the world championship, but we know we cannot let up at all: it takes nothing to drop down the order. Heikki's accident? I was very happy when the team told me he was alright and that's the most important thing."
The result now puts Kimi further ahead in the Drivers' standings, with Felipe moving up to fourth, while the Scuderia overtakes BMW-Sauber to lead the Constructors' classification.
"These are eight very important points,” said Massa. “It is not always possible to win as I did manage in Bahrain a fortnight ago. I made a great start and managed to pass Alonso, getting very close to Kimi. I knew I was stopping a lap before my team-mate and that therefore it would have been very difficult to get ahead of him. That's why I think that today, I did the most I could have done in this situation, bringing home valuable points for myself and for the team. Even this year, despite the banning of electronic driver aids, overtaking is pretty much impossible and the result of qualifying, along with strategy, remains crucial for deciding the finishing order.”
The excitement began even before the start as Alonso went off on the grass on the formation lap but rejoined. At the front, Raikkonen made the most of pole to slip into the lead, and Felipe, for the second year in succession, began his Spanish Grand Prix fighting second-placed Alonso. But going into the first corner, the Brazilian surged past the Renault to take up position behind his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate. A collision in the pack, involving Vettel and Sutil immediately saw the Safety Car on track and racing resumed at the end of lap 3, with the order Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen, Heidfeld, Webber, Trulli, and Piquet completing the top ten until the next lap when the Renault man went wide and dropped down the order. He then spun again, ending his race and that of Bourdais.
By lap 10, Raikkonen led Massa by three seconds, with Alonso a further 1.8 behind, still with Hamilton, Kubica and Kovalainen completing the top six. As expected after yesterday's very fast qualifying lap, Fernando Alonso was the first man to pit at the end of lap 16 (9.3s) suggesting he might be on a three-stop strategy. Hamilton in the McLaren was now third, 11.2 off the leader. Massa was the first F2008 driver in pit lane, stopping for 8.1s at the end of lap 19. Raikkonen was in next time round, stationary for just one tenth of a second longer than his team-mate. At the same time, Mark Webber came in from sixth place, while Hamilton was the new leader but only for one lap until his own stop, which occurred at the same time as Robert Kubica's.
A high speed crash saw Kovalainen go straight on and bury his car in the tyre barriers at Turn 9 which immediately brought out the Safety Car. When the pit lane opened Barrichello managed to leave the pitlsne with the front of his Honda hanging off. To everyone's relief, Kovalainen was shown giving a thumbs-up sign from the stretcher as he was carried into the ambulance. As the race resumed on lap 28, the order, with everyone having stopped at least once, was Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Webber, Trulli, Rosberg and Nakajima completing the top ten. Fifth placed Heidfeld was given a ten second stop-go penalty for refuelling when the pit lane was closed.
On lap 35, the crowd started to leave, as Fernando Alonso parked his Renault at Turn 4, having been fifth, until his car stopped with flames coming from the back of the car. On lap 41, Rosberg parked his Williams alongside the pit wall, which left just 13 cars in the race. Out in front, Kimi led Felipe by 2.9s, with Hamilton a further 3.0 down in the remaining McLaren. Kubica was fourth, followed by Webber, Trulli, Nakajima, Fisichella, Button, Coulthard, Glock, Heidfeld and Sato 13th and last.
Laps 45 and 46 saw the two Ferrari men trade fastest lap times, as Massa came in at the end of 46, for a 7.2 second stop. Webber came in from fifth at the same time. Next time round, saw Raikkonen, Hamilton and Kubica all pit at the same time. On lap 55, with all pit stops completed, the order was Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Webber, Button, Nakajima, Trulli, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Glock, Sato and Coulthard, 13th and last, as an earlier collision with Glock saw him pit with a puncture. The only change to this order, as the chequered flag came out after 66 laps was that Coulthard passed Sato for 12th.
"We are obviously delighted with this result, the best one possible,” said Ferrari Team Director, Stefano Domenicali. “It comes as a result of the work done in preparing for the race throughout the weekend and I want to thank the whole team, both those who are here at the track and those back in Maranello, for their efforts. We have to continue in this way, paying great attention to every little detail. We are up against very strong opponents and it takes just the slightest thing for a good result to slip through ones fingers. We are leading both championships and we have to keep on down this path."
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